Details Matter in This Minimalistic Custom Build
BRANDON FREEMAN IS NO stranger to customs. He owns and operates Freeman’s Hot Rods & Customs in Chesterfield, South Carolina, alongside his father, Junior. The father-son tag team has made its mark with hot rod, muscle car and truck builds over the last several years. As an industry man, Brandon comes across promising projects pretty often, but when this gem of a 1977 Ford F-100 rolled in, he pounced.
The original plan was simple (it always is): suspension update and new motor. More than two years later, though, Brandon has a competitive show truck on his hands. But the method to the madness never changed. After countless builds, Brandon has learned to take pride in all aspects of his work and never rush a thing. These values have clearly paid off. The result is a minimalistic custom build with showstopping presence.
The chassis is preserved. The ’77 frame is in place, sporting a series of customizations to achieve the dropped stance. First up are the Fat Man Fabrications front springs and replacement shocks. The simple swap is cost-effective and delivers serious improvement in driver comfort. Sliding back to the rear, the frame was C-notched and outfitted with the Fat Man rear flip kit. In addition to the lowering mods, the ’77 frame was stripped clean and sandblasted. It was then finished in gloss black paint for final cleanliness.
The parts list seemed to grow with a mind of its own, as is typical. But each and every part contributes to the whole.
With the finished chassis sitting significantly lower to the pavement, it was time for a new set of wheels. Brandon selected a set of Budnik “Tungsten” billet wheels. The multilayered spokes are true to model name. They display a contrast finish of deep metallic gray centers and mirror polish edges. They are capped with a trispoke centerpiece much like the first-generation Shelby Cobras. The wheels measure 19 inches all around, 9 inches wide in the front and 10 in the rear. They are paired with Michelin Pilot Sport tires for aggressive looks and performance. The tires are 245/45/19 and 285/40/19. The Fat Man Fabrications front suspension overhaul included larger disc brakes. In the rear, Brandon installed the disc conversion from Right Stuff. All are fed with an OEM replacement master cylinder from CPP.
For this classic sport truck, there was no need to search high and low for a suitable motor. True to the build’s sprit, Brandon selected an ’88 produced 351 Windsor. The Ford small-block was rebuilt to near factory spec with a dash of extra sauce here and there. Powerhouse engine builders in Rockingham, North Carolina, bored the motor .04 over. The engine also received and Erson camshaft. It’s topped with an Edelbrock Performer intake and Holley Street Avenger 770 carb. Additional features include MSD ignition bits and Crown Victoria front accessories. For a bit more breathing room, Brandon installed Shorty Headers from Hedman. The twisted pipes lead into a custom dual exhaust. The 2.5-inch stainless pipes terminate in twin Magnaflow mufflers. The motor is hooked to Ford C6 AOD transmission. The five-speed was fully rebuilt to factory spec. It provides reliable and effortless cruising through the power-band. The power makes its way down a custom driveshaft to a Ford 9-inch rear end. The housing touts a Strange third member limited-slip differential. Final drive ratio is 3.89.
The ’77’s interior is perfectly congruent with the exterior. The less-is-more recipe continues.
The 1977 F-100 is one of beloved “dent-side” models, nicknamed for their full-length body spears. The sixth generation was a marked transition. The increasingly boxy styling of the ’70s and ’80s auto design left nothing untouched. But the F-series trucks wear it especially well. The large front fascia and rectangular aesthetics are still visible features of Ford trucks. Brandon’s model is the textbook example of OEM styling. All of the factory chrome trim is renewed and in place. The bumpers are Dennis Carpenter factory replacement units. Unfortunately, the original grille was damaged in shipping after being rechromed. It now wears a CPP replacement. Ironically, the most dramatic custom bodywork is mostly invisible. The inner fenders and firewall are completely shaved and smoothed. But these under-hood mods suit the build perfectly. The original style is on full display, while the custom bits hide in plain sight. The final step was to black-out the center of the dentside’s “dents” and coat the body in Race Red by Axalta Paints. The rich saturation of the red contrasts boldly with the subtle black accents and chrome accessories. The Tungsten wheels set the whole affair on fire.
The ’77’s interior is perfectly congruent with the exterior. The less-is-more recipe continues. Continuing the red/black theme, the cabin interior was painted matte black. The dash too was given the lowgloss treatment. A Retro Sounds head unit replaced the original radio, maintaining the attractive classic look. For a more powerful and efficient system, Brandon installed a Vintage Air A/C kit. The interior aesthetics are beautifully customized. The OEM bench seat was re-built and upholstered with black leather and red stitching. Fresh black loop carpet stretches over the floor pan. Driver experience is fully customized with an Ididit tilt steering column, Dakota Digital VHX gauges and matching Budnik “Tungsten” billet steering wheel.
Brandon planned a simple build. And relatively speaking, he stuck to the plan. The parts list seemed to grow with a mind of its own, as is typical. But each and every part contributes to the whole. The little details add up to a perfect custom truck. It sits low, glides like it’s on ice and has the juice it needs to burn a bit of rubber. The dazzling red finish, with chrome and black accents, looks good from every angle. The modifications all serve as a testament to Brandon’s patience and skill as a builder. A core value of his it to take pride in every aspect of his work. His commitment is obvious in the truck. Each facet boasts the highest level of finish. Care and skill were poured into every detail, resulting in serious show stopper.
1977 Ford F-100
Chesterfield, South Carolina
- Fat Man Fab front suspension and rear flip kit
- Sandblasted and painted black
- 351 Windsor
- Bored .04 over
- Erson Camshaft
- Eldelbrock intake
- Holley Street Avenger 770 carb
- MSD ignition
- Crown Vic front accessories
- Hedman shorty headers
- Custom exhaust, Flowmaster mufflers
- Rebuilt C6 AOD transmission
- Ford 9-incg rear end
- Strange 3rd member, 3.89 LSD
- Budnik Tungsten Billet wheels: 19×9 and 19×10
- Michelin Pilot Sport tires, 245/45/zr19 and 285/40/zr19
- Fat Man Fab front disc brake kit, Right Stuff rear disc brake kit
- CPP replacement master cylinder
- Restored chrome trim
- CPP Replacement chrome grille
- Dennis Carpenter front and rear replacement bumpers
- Axalta Race Red finish
- Gloss black accents
- Reupholstered bench seat, black leather with red stitching
- Interior and dash painted matte black
- Retro Sounds head unit
- Vintage Air A/C kit
- Custom black carpet
- Dakota Digital HDX gauges
- Ididt tilt steering column
- Budnik “Tungsten” billet steering wheel